Visiting Marchena is like travelling back in time to the extraordinary era of Al-Andalus. This age-old Almohad town, situated in the heart of Seville’s La Campiña, stands among flat fields given to olive groves and crops. From a distance, you can make out the tower of Santa María de la Mota Church, built over a mosque that housed a Muslim fortress. Named Marshana by the Arabs, it still conserves most of the city’s walls and the singular Arco de la Rosa or Rose Arch –now the hallmark of the town.
Stroll through the town’s stately streets and enjoy its invaluable historical heritage. Marchena boasts beautiful Moorish houses, enormous mansions and splendid churches, especially the San Juan Bautista Parish Church, declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 1931. Marchena is also the cradle of flamenco and is famous internationally for Pepe Marchena, the father of the ‘colombianas’ style of music. Music is an important part of daily life in Marchena, famous for the saetas moleeras, a unique form of flamenco that is sung during Holy Week.
The cuisine, influenced by the town’s Andalusí past, is yet another gem that this town treasures. Sample dishes such as sangre encebollada con tomate and espinacas con garbanzos. However, if there is one local product you should not miss, that is the mollete marchenero. Enjoy this typical flatbread of Marchena in a hearty breakfast; drizzled with local olive oil. It is a truly delicious treat.
If driving from Seville by car, take the A-92 motorway, and exit at 49B Paradas to reach Marchena.
Marchena has a train station so you can also get there on the Seville-Málaga-Granada-Almería line. If you decide to go by bus, the company Autocares Valenzuela offers regular service from Prado de San Sebastián Station throughout the day.
Stroll through the streets and discover its rich historical heritage. If you do not fancy walking, the local bus has plenty of stops. You can also hike or cycle through the countryside of the beautiful La Campiña.
Marchena’s historical centre has great heritage value. It is one of few towns in the province that still conserve its Arabic architecture. The Rose Arch, emblem of the town, is the starting point for the tour of this exceptional town that dates back to Al-Andalus. Also known as the Puerta de Sevilla, this gate in the city walls is the site of a beautiful legend about a romance between a Moorish princess and a Christian.
To learn more about the town’s Almohad history, take the guided tour of Marchena’s walled compound (offered by the Tourist Office). This tour will take you through the Puerta del Tiro that once linked the medieval town with the fortified alcázar. It is one of the town’s most picturesque corners, where the famous saetas moleeras are sung during Holy Week. A few metres away is the oldest place of worship, the Santa María de la Mota Church, formerly a mosque sited within the compound of the Arab castle.
Further ahead at Plaza Marcelo Spínola, take in the beautiful views of San Juan neighbourhood with its palatial houses and buildings, including the Cross of the Order of Malta. The San Juan Bautista Church, home to nine paintings by Francisco Zurbarán, the Baroque master, is also on this square. A gem for this town!
If you feel like stopping to rest, walk to the Plaza de San Andrés and buy in the convent a delicious pastry called torta de hoja made by the Mercedarian nuns. Don’t forget to try it. You’ll love it! Continue along the historical streets, and discover the numerous religious buildings and stately mansions of this elegant town.
End your tour at the Isidro Arcenegui Park, where a sculpture of the singer-songwriter of ‘colombianas’, Pepe Marchena, stands. Take a break in these beautiful gardens and finish your day sampling the delicious local cuisine in one of Marchena’s bars or restaurants.
Located in the Guadalquivir Valley within the La Campiña region, Marchena is 63 kilometres from Seville. Its flat fields, given over to olive trees and grain crops, are watered by the River Corbones.